By Alejandra Garcia, Multimedia and Communications Student Assistant


In 1933 Los Angeles and Hollywood were core locations for Nazi activity. As Jewish communities feared for their lives, one Jewish attorney named Leon Lewis took action forming spy rings to infiltrate Nazi and Fascist hate groups in Los Angeles.

This important piece of history will be brought to Fresno State April 12 in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Award-winning historian Dr. Steven J. Ross, professor of history at USC and author of many award-winning books is set to lecture about his most recent work, “Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America.”  The book has been on the Los Angeles Times Best Seller list for several weeks and was recently nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.

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The public reading is hosted by the Jewish Studies Program and the Department of History at Fresno State and will begin at 5 p.m. in the Henry Madden Library, room 2206.

The Jewish Studies Program provides students with essential tools to understand multiple ethnic and religious minority identities and encourages students to understand and study Jewish culture through interdisciplinary thinking, community engagement, and student organizations.

Dr. Jill Fields, Professor of History and Founding Coordinator of the program considers the public reading a great opportunity for students to learn more about Ross’ cutting-edge research.

“Fresno State students, like many Americans, have a deep curiosity about this era in American and world history.  Students will gain new insights about the homefront during World War II and how Jewish Americans organized and defeated fascists in California,” Fields said.

Ross’ focus on the little-known story of the rise of Nazism in Los Angeles will empower students to explore and understand how Jews in Los Angeles — and their non-Jewish allies — resisted white supremacy and fascism during a time of fear.

Son of Holocaust survivors, and the first in his family to attend university, Steven J. Ross is a writer and professor. His book “Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics,” received a Pulitzer Prize nomination and a Film Scholars Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His book, “Workers On the Edge: Work, Leisure, and Politics in Industrializing Cincinnati, 1788-1890 (1985)” was later produced into a documentary by Cincinnati unionists entitled “They Build the City: The Working People of Cincinnati.”

In addition, Ross’ book, “Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America,” received a prestigious Theater Library Association Book Award in 1999 and was named “Best Books of 1998” by the  Los Angeles Times and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in History. His writings have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, International Herald-Tribune, Newark Star-Ledger, Washington Independent, Huffington Post, and Politico.  

Currently a Professor of History and Director of the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life at at the University of Southern California,  Ross has written in the areas of working-class history, social history, film history, and political history.

For more information about Dr. Steven J. Ross recent work, visit his website.